What NBC Should Do for the 2012 Olympics

Commentary and analysis from the staff of Broadcasting & Cable.
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I have a suggestion for how NBC should cover the 2012 Summer Games, an idea reminiscent of something the network tried in the early 1990s.

I was in Australia for the first week of the Games, and was surprised at how the Nine Network (a broadcaster) and Foxtel (a cable provider) teamed up to televise them. Nine aired many of the events live and ran a nightly primetime special with the highlights, just like NBC does. Foxtel subscribers could pay an extra $65 to get access to its Olympics package, which delivered live and full coverage on four channels of every medal event and every one with an Aussie competing.

In 1992, NBC tried to do a similar Olympics pay-per-view service dubbed TripleCast. It flopped. But I think the idea needs to be resurrected.

So, here is my idea for NBC: Add a premium product with multiple dedicated channels offering live, around-the-clock coverage, including events that would normally be held for primetime. Also offer access to every event live online, so people can watch (ahem) at work or on the road.

Pay-per-view and cable technology have come a long way since 1992, and by 2012 the industry should have a real handle on the possibilities of TV Anywhere-style online authentication plays. Such a product could drive revenue, and because it would be largely additive probably would not cause any real harm to the primetime program.